Quran abuse is ‘ugly Americanism’

Handling of Quran points to larger issues of American ignorance and arrogance.

The reports surfacing of the abuse of the Quran at the hands of U.S. soldiers showcases “ugly Americanism” at some of its worst. The United States, through its ignorance and arrogance toward another culture, has helped to further undermine its own efforts. Belittling the desecration of the Quran undermines the expressed purposes of the “war on terrorism.”

It is crucial to understand the position of this holy text in Islam as well as why this incident caused such an uproar in the Muslim world.

Newsweek aside, numerous other incidents in which Qurans were mishandled by officers in Guantanamo are still surfacing. U.S. apathy toward these incidents is misplaced.

In the eyes of more than a billion Muslims in this world, the Quran is revered greatly and should only be handled with respect to the rules outlined in Islamic law. Something that might appear as harmless as placing the Quran on the ground is considered wrongful conduct. Likewise, taking it into places where people relieve themselves is to defile the Quran. To Muslims, the Quran is literally the words of God, and anything that undervalues the Quran is considered wrongful conduct, including spitting, stepping on and flushing the Quran down the toilet. The acts are misconduct against the prime symbol of Islam and, thus, disrespectful to Muslims.

Unfortunately, the Newsweek case does not stand alone as far as Quran abuse. The American Civil Liberties Union reported that incidents centering around Quran abuse were brought up as early as 2003, but were not dealt with accordingly or even recognized until now. Only now, after the Newsweek piece surfaced and people died, did this situation gain recognition.

It is crucial to not only have knowledge of the lifestyle of the inhabitants, but to also respect the faiths and practices of others. The reports are a sign of U.S. intolerance toward the billion Muslims in this world who hold the Quran close to their hearts. “Ugly Americanism” hasn’t worked in the past and it will not work now.